Two Ends of the Spectrum: Abusing and Using The Internet

posted by Judge_Burke @ 15:52 PM
September 28, 2011

The ABA Journal has two reports that might be of interest to judges. The first deals with the problem of jurors deciding to do their own research on the Internet. This has been a problem and concern for a lot of judges.  The ABA article  said: The Manhattan federal judge known for her opinions setting out rules for e-discovery has turned to the problem of “Goggle mistrials.”

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin says she is “keenly aware” of convictions set aside because jurors have looked up information on the Internet during trial, the New York Times reports. At a court hearing earlier this month, Scheindlin suggested a way to combat the problem: Require jurors to sign a pledge promising they will not look up case-related information online. Violations of the pledge could bring perjury charges.

Scheindlin said she would draft such a pledge, and she might require jurors in the trial of Viktor Bout to sign it. Bout is a Russian businessman accused of trying to sell weapons to Colombian rebels. Scheindlin said she was seeking a practical way to keep jurors from finding out information that could be prejudicial.

“I can’t seize their computers and their BlackBerrys,” she said. “I can’t lock them up. I can try to intimidate them.”

Tara Trask, president of the American Society of Trial Consultants, told the Times she’s never heard of a judge asking jurors to sign any kind of pledge or written document. She said she liked the “forward-thinking idea.” New York University law professor Stephen Gillers told the newspaper the idea “can help and certainly can’t hurt.”

Scheindlin is known for a series of rulings in 2004 analyzing what kind of electronic evidence is discoverable and who is responsible for the costs.

 When was the last time you personally sent a letter to someone at a General Post Office number? Better yet when did you check to see if someone sent you a letter addressed to General Post Office? There are people who regularly look at the local obituary page….sometime referred to as the Irish sports page but how frequently to you read the legal notices in your local newspaper? Stephanie  Francis Ward has an interesting article in the electronic version of the ABA Journal on service of process through the Internet. You can find the article at:

http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/our_pleasure_to_serve_lawyers_social_networking_sites_notify_defendants/. If you are adventuresome enough to allow service through the use of the Internet or social media here are a couple sample orders I’ve written:  

Facebook Publication 09-26-11

Internet SAMS


4 Responses to “Two Ends of the Spectrum: Abusing and Using The Internet”

  1. Gerald T. Elliott Says:

    Very adventursome indeed! What jurisdiction do you believe that you would have by such notice? In personam? In rem?

  2. Lenore Mary Says:

    Nice posts. I can’t wait for to read through the others.

  3. Miquel Imlay Says:

    Your article really spurred my interest which is not easy to do. I love how we made your specific points. This really is persuasive content.

  4. Web Tips Says:

    Thanks for a Very Fine article and your website is pretty good too.


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